“Why should we care about what the ‘fathers’ of the Church believed? After all, weren’t they merely fallible men? We have the inspired writings of the apostles. What more do we need?”
Why should we care about what the fathers of the Church believed? Because they are the closest sources we have to the apostles themselves, their writings can help us understand what the apostles meant by what they wrote.
St Ignatius of Antioch, for example, was a disciple of John the apostle. St Irenaeus bishop of Lyon in the second century was a disciple of Polycarp who was himself a disciple of John. The fathers aren’t inspired or infallible, but they learned their doctrine directly from the apostles and those taught by the apostles and so provide a unique window into the apostolic mind. If we find the fathers to be unanimous on a particular issue, for instance as they are on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, we can have strong confidence that this is the correct understanding of that issue.
There are many, many great resources out there for learning about the history of the Church. Here are some of our favorites.
A FEW GREAT VIDEOS
A FEW GREAT TALKS
Deep in History, Deep in Scripture, Deep in Christ
Deep in History Talks
Christianity is a historical Faith. Christianity is rooted in the historical facts of Jesus’s life. The Church, which is His Body, has lived, grown, and matured in space and time. An important way to come to a deeper understanding of Christ and His Church is to study their history.
A FEW GREAT BOOKS
by Rod Bennet
Rod Bennett follows up his bestseller Four Witnesses with an account of the historical events that led him out of his own belief in apostasy theory and into the Catholic Church. The theory goes like this: Just a few centuries after Christ s death, around the time the Roman Empire converted to Christianity, the true Faith suffered a catastrophic falling-away. The simple truths of the gospel became so obscured by worldliness and pagan idolatry kicking off the Dark Ages of Catholicism that Christianity required a complete reboot. Rod narrates the drama of the early Church s fight to preserve Christian orthodoxy intact even as powerful forces try to smash it to pieces.
by Jimmy Akin
The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church is a unique resource. It’s specially designed to make it easy for you to find the information you want and need, with more than 900 quotations from the writings of the early Church Fathers, as well as from rare and important documents dating back to the dawn of Christian history and all arranged topically. This is a really great resources.
by Mike Aquilina
We hear the voices of the early Church Fathers even today. Their teachings, their guidance, their insights, and their sacrifice shaped the Catholic Church. They defined the canon of Scripture, developed our creeds and forms of worship. They defined Christianity’s distinctive moral sense. But who were they? What can we learn from their ancient teachings? What can the Fathers teach us in the 21st century? This is a rich resource for anyone interested in learning about the Church Fathers and their legacy.